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Herper of the week

Herper of the Week: Dr. Rob Denton


Each week a “Herper” of the Week is chosen. These individuals come from all sorts of backgrounds but they all have one common interest – “herps” (reptiles and amphibians). Hopefully, you will learn about them and their important work.

This week’s herper is Dr. Rob Denton, soon to be Assistant Professor at the University of  Minnesota – Morris starting next term. Dr. Denton earned his Ph.D in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology from THE Ohio State University in 2017. The last year he has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Molecular and Cell Biology.

Dr. Denton research focuses on amphibians especially the unisex salamanders of the family Ambystomatidae. These all female salamander populations are found in the Eastern United States. They reproduce by stealing sperm from other male species of salamanders. Rob is also working on completing the genome of the African Bullfrog (Pyxicephalus adspersus). 

Other Amphibian of the Week

Blue Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale)

photo by Henk Wallays

Common Name: Blue Spotted Salamander
Scientific Name: Ambystoma laterale
Family: Ambystomatidae
Location: Canada and USA
US Location: Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Vermont,and Wisconsin
Size: 5 inches

The Blue Spotted Salamander is a beautiful salamander that is found in the Southeastern Canada and Northeastern United States of America. It is a member of the family Ambystomatidae which is known as the Mole Salamanders. They received this nickname due to the fact that they spend most of their life in burrows in the ground. The Blue Spotted Salamander does come out of these burrows in the spring when it is time to mate. They migrate to ponds to breed where they can lay as many as 200 eggs. It takes around a month for the eggs to hatch and then it takes the rest of the summer for them to finalize their metamorphism. Then they head onto land, only to return back to a pond in a few years to breed.


Frog of the Week

Eastern Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor)

Common Name: Eastern Gray Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla versicolor
Family: Hylidae
Location: Canada and the United States of America
US Location: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.
Size: around 2 inches

The Eastern Gray Tree Frog is a common tree frog found along the eastern United States and Canada. The Eastern Gray Tree Frog is not always gray, it can also be green because they change their color based on their environment. The Eastern Gray Tree Frog is identical to the Cope’s Gray Tree Frog except for the call and the number of chromosomes.


Other Amphibian of the Week

Alabama Waterdog (Necturus alabamensis)

Common Name: Alabama Waterdog, Black Warrior Waterdog
Scientific Name: Necturus alabamensis
Family: Proteidae
Location: United States – Alabama
Size: 9.5 inches total length

Waterdogs are closely related to Mudpuppies and Olms. Waterdogs keep their gills into adulthood and they possess all four limbs. The Alabama Waterdog is a federally listed endangered species only found along the Black Warrior River Basin in Alabama. It has only just been listed by the USA as an endangered species in 2018. Pollution is a serious problem for these guys. Water qualities in the streams that they live in are decreasing from mining, agriculture, and urbanization. The streams are also becoming fragmented, meaning populations of these Waterdogs are being isolated.



Frog of the Week, Uncategorized

Santa Cecilia Cochran Frog (Teratohyla midas)

photo by Brakis Art Gallery

Common Name: Santa Cecilia Cochran Frog
Scientific Name:  Teratohyla midas
Family: Centrolenidae
Location: Brazil, Ecuador, French Guiana, and Peru
Size: 1 inch

The Santa Cecilia Cochran Frog’s scientific name Teratohyla midas refers to King Midas, whose touch turns everything to gold. The frog has golden dots on its body and it is found along the Aguarico River, a river that has gold in it.

The Santa Cecilia Cochran Frog is similar to most glass frogs (besides being transparent) in that they lay their eggs on leaves overhanging rivers. The eggs eventually hatch and the tadpoles fall into the rivers.

Herper of the week

Herper of the Week: Dr. Kate Mansfield


Each week a “Herper” of the Week is chosen. These individuals come from all sorts of backgrounds but they all have one common interest – “herps” (reptiles and amphibians). Hopefully, you will learn about them and their important work.

This week’s Herper is Dr. Kate Mansfield,  associate professor at the University of Central Florida and lab director of the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group. Obviously, her research focuses on sea turtle including their biology, ecology, and conservation. Her recent project was testing solar powered satellite tags on young turtles to track their early dispersal and habitat use.

The UCF Marine Turtle Research Group has done research at the sea turtle nesting sites at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge (ACNWR) for over 30 years. The ACNWR is home to over 25% of all nesting sites for green turtles and loggerhead turtles in North America. The group maintains a database about the sea turtles that helps federal, state, and international organizations manage their populations of the turtles.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Three Toed Amphiuma (Amphiuma tridactylum)

photo by opencage

Common Name: Three Toed Amphiuma
Scientific Name: Amphiuma tridactylum
Family: Amphiumidae
Location: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas
Size: 42 inches

The Three Toed Amphiuma is a weird salamander found in the Southeastern United States. Amphiumas have long, elongated bodies that appear eel-like. They have tiny little feet in the front and back. They are mostly aquatic and rarely seen especially since they are active during the night. During the night, they eat just about anything in the water including fish, earthworms, and crustaceans.

Frog of the Week

Common Parsley Frog (Pelodytes punctatus)

photo by Teuteul

Common Name: Common Parsley Frog
Scientific Name: Pelodytes punctatus
Family: Pelodytidae
Location: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Spain
Size: 1.7 inches / 4.5 cm

The Common Parsley Frog isn’t that common anymore. Populations all over have been declining and most of the countries that they live in have declared them at risk. The destruction of their habitat (wetlands being drained, desertification, habitat fragmentation, etc) is one of the major causes of the decline. Introduction of non native fish and crayfish haven’t helped either.

Herper of the week

Herper of the Week: Hiral Naik


Each week a “Herper” of the Week is chosen. These individuals come from all sorts of backgrounds but they all have one common interest – “herps” (reptiles and amphibians). Hopefully, you will learn about them and their important work. This week’s Herper if Hiral Naik, a conservationist from South Africa.

Hiral Naik earned her Master’s of Science degree in Ecology, Environment and Conservation from the University of Witwatersrand. Her research was on the evolutionary pattern of the diets of snakes in the family Lamprophiidae.

She is currently a blogger for Conservation Careers, where she interviews conservationists and writes articles about them. She is a Project Coordinator with Wildserv, where she is working to get groups to help remove invasive species and plant native trees instead. Lastly, she is a communications coordinator with Save the Snakes.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Cope’s Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon copei)

photo by Brad M. Glorioso


Common Name: Cope’s Giant Salamander
Scientific Name: Dicamptodon copei
Family: Dicamptodontidae
Location: United States – Oregon and Washington
Size: 8 inches / 20.5 cm total length

The Cope’s Giant Salamander is a large salamander found in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. It is usually aquatic as they often never go through metamorphosis. Mating and courtship of the salamander has never been seen but its believed to be similar to the other Giant Pacific Salamanders. Females do protect their nest of eggs from predators and can be very aggressive.